By Chris Brown
From the April 2018 Issue
The global IT landscape is changing at a rapid pace. The past several years has brought on a substantial shift in how businesses approach their complex IT needs. The industry is adapting to a new set of businesses challenges and opportunities, and external influences with blended systems comprised of traditional data centers, colocation facilities, and cloud assets.
This is an exciting time for the industry, as all these factors collectively alter how data centers are planned, built, and managed. To remain efficient and effective, facility executives should keep these key trends in mind through 2018 and beyond.
1. The Growth Of Complex Hybrid Infrastructure. Hybrid IT deployments are becoming increasingly common. Unfortunately, IT delivery in a hybrid world can involve blind spots for resiliency. Organizations deploying workloads that straddle on-premise and off-premise compute models are vulnerable to downtime incidents because of a lack of transparency between colocation providers and cloud companies.
In fact, a 2017 study of publicly reported IT service outages revealed that 62% were experienced by IT service providers. According to Uptime Institute’s 2017 Data Center Industry Survey, more than 70% of data center professionals said that their cloud and colocation vendor strategy needed improvement, while 15% described their procurement process as “incoherent.” (More can be found online.)
It’s essential to develop business metrics for identifying the best execution venues and appropriate solution providers. These conversations should be focused on availability, cost, and risk—rather than on topics like power usage effectiveness (PUE) and mean time between failures (MTBF).
Hybrid infrastructure will continue to be the norm for years to come. Overall, enterprises will need to reassess these complex, hybrid IT deployments to better understand where there are opportunities for change and improvement. At a minimum, every organization needs visibility into application interdependencies, network resiliency, and service levels of sites and providers supporting critical IT services.
2. Increased Demand At The Edge. As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows and evolves at an increasing rate, demand for data processing and analysis closer to the point of usage will continue to build in order to keep up. A single rack of storage, server, and network equipment at a remote location might not seem like much, but even simple edge sites can support critical business functions today.
Pushing computation and analytical capabilities to the edge reduces traffic over the network and can reduce round-trip delay in sending data for analysis in a centralized cloud platform. The efficiencies and convenience of smaller edge computing sites is where their true value lies. But, just because they’re smaller doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held to stringent standards. For distributed infrastructure models to truly work, businesses need to ensure that their edge sites are as reliable and productive as large, traditional data centers.
3. The Growing Importance Of Disaster Planning. Ten years ago, businesses didn’t have to think about planning for and dealing with weather and resource-related geographical crises nearly as often. Whether due to rising sea levels and heavier precipitation from climate change or poor planning amid rapid city expansions, one thing is for sure: data centers today are facing a completely different reality than those of the past. For example, precipitation changes and the continued misuse of freshwater resources could result in water shortages in some areas of the world, making evaporative cooling options untenable.
Climate change and business decisions related to natural resources will likely bring about data center crises all over the world at higher frequencies, forcing businesses to reassess their disaster planning and recovery processes, as well as business continuity plans.
Disaster and emergency planning can no longer be isolated to equipment testing and procedures, but instead needs to be conducted within the context of possible emergency scenarios. Data center facilities managers need to incorporate IT Infrastructure resiliency planning within the broader business continuity plan to make sure everything continues to operate properly once the next major weather event or unexpected disaster inevitably occurs.
4. The Impact Of New Regulations. The European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect on May 25, 2018. Each and every modern business needs to be actively planning for laws and regulations like this, regardless of their location. GDPR in particular will have a major impact on global IT operations because any company that stores or processes information about EU citizens must demonstrate compliance or face a steep fine of up to 4% of their worldwide revenue.
With the deadline for compliance arriving, data center organizations will need to contemplate the ways this regulation will affect their operations. GDPR will undoubtedly have a significant impact on where companies decide to build or lease their data centers, which security vendors and IT service providers win new contracts, and which new security controls will need to be adopted. The key with any new regulation is for companies to stay up to date and ahead of the game of compliance criteria and deadlines.
Brown is chief technology officer of Uptime Institute, an advisory organization that works with stakeholders responsible for IT service availability through industry leading standards, education, peer-to-peer networking, consulting, and award programs. Brown’s 14+ year career in critical facilities includes analyzing requirements, retrofitting existing systems, performing capacity planning, and implementing new facilities design. With more than 11 years in data center design and operation, Brown also has experience in engineering design, equipment selection, installation, and troubleshooting.
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